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Biography of Charlie Chaplin

Decades after his passing, Charlie Chaplin’s legacy as one of the greatest actors of all time endures. The audience still views the silent film pioneer, who became even more successful in the sound era, as a lovable, foolish Tramp who took over the globe. He continued to be a learned, devout gentleman throughout his life, but he also succeeded in making everyone laugh at his hero.


Charlie Chaplin, whose real name is Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, was born in April 1889. He was the first kid of a family of London Music Hall pop performers. Hannah had her first son, Sidney Hill, prior to her union with Charlie’s father, Charles Spencer Chaplin. One specific Jew named Hawks was his father. However, Sydney Hill, like his half-brother Charlie, was given the surname Chaplin upon his mother’s marriage.

Charlie’s early years were spent in happiness with his brother Sid. My father enjoyed enormous popularity. He toured all across Europe, was a frequent guest at London music halls, and had a nice baritone voice. However, Chaplin Sr.’s alcoholism quickly got worse, and he passed away in a hospital in London at the age of 37.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889 – 1977) the English film actor and director. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hannah, who was now widowed, carried on doing music hall performances despite experiencing laryngitis. Charlie, five, who his mother took with her everywhere, had to take her place one day. The child got up on stage and started singing when the woman was unable to finish the song.

Embarrassed onlookers hurled coins and notes at him. After he stopped singing, Charles gathered money to the audience’s amusement before finishing the show. That may have been the start of his imaginative biography.

Then his boyhood came to an end. Hannah could no longer put up a show. She quickly went insane and was admitted to a mental health facility when the boy was seven years old. Sid and Charlie were placed in an orphanage. The younger brother got admitted to the dance company “Eight Lancashire Lads” at the age of nine. In 1900, he made audiences laugh for the first time by playing a cat in a Christmas pantomime.

Charlie, however, quit the group a year later. He just did not have time for school or study because he had to work to make ends meet. The child labored wherever he was employed, selling newspapers, assisting hospital nurses, and working at a printing company.

At fourteen years old, Chaplin’s dream career came true when he was cast as a courier in the Sherlock Holmes performance and was given a permanent job in the theater. Notably, the boy needed help from his brother Sid to learn the role because he was illiterate.


Charlie, at 19 years old, was admitted to the Fred Karno Theater in 1908, where sketches and pantomimes were produced for English music halls. The young man quickly rose to prominence as the star of most plays. Carnot’s troupe embarked on an American tour two years later. Chaplin then made the decision to remain in the United States.

Mack Sennett saw his act one day. The artist was recruited to work at the American film producer’s Keystone studio because he was so impressed with the game. A deal with Chaplin was struck in September 1913, wherein the studio agreed to give him a weekly compensation of $150.

For the artist, things were not easy when he was younger. Sennett thought Charlie’s hiring was rash, and he even considered firing him. However, the Englishman rose to prominence as an actor a year later. The audience adored Mack, this unpolished, spontaneous hero. However, when the artist strayed from the producer’s imagined persona, he became even more fascinating.

Charlie was asked by Mac one day to apply new makeup for the comedy movie “Children’s Car Racing.” Subsequently, the artist created a new image that the public is now familiar with. Given his height, these broad pants were absurd, together with a business card-style jacket that was too tight, a little bowler hat, enormous boots that were worn incorrectly, and a mustache.

And so the Little Tramp character came to be. Charlie noticed a cane that had been added to it over time in one of his father’s pictures. The tramp shot to fame right away. However, when the actor became well-known, he started to believe that he could be a better director and screenwriter than his managers.

In 1914, Chaplin released his debut motion picture, Caught in the Rain. He performed as an actor and a scriptwriter here as well. Chaplin received $10,000 per contract from Essenay Film, as opposed to $1,250 a week from Keystone Studios, when he was fired.

Mutual Film offered the artist even higher compensation in 1916–1917: $150,000 per contract and $10,000 per week. Charlie became the most expensive performer of his era when he signed a $1 million deal with the First National studio in 1917.

Chaplin founded United Artists, his own film studio, in 1919. He was employed there until he was compelled to permanently depart America in the early 1950s.

The audience wasn’t thrilled with every performance by the artist. The movie “Parisian Woman” was received coolly by the audience. In this psychological play, Chaplin made a brief cameo appearance. The inclination to view the Little Tramp’s most cherished picture won out. However, critics acknowledged Charlie’s writing talent and enjoyed his new work. When “The Circus” was released in the middle to late 1920s, the public reacted favorably to it. The artist was to experience triumph in his home city of London as well as in Paris, where he traveled to twice in the ensuing twenty years.

The cinematic mastermind’s films contain a number of cult moments. One of these is the film “City Lights”‘s ending, when the hero’s face alternately conveys the spectrum of emotions he is feeling at that particular instant while he gazes at his sweetheart. Another is the bun-dancing scene from “The Gold Rush,” which was later referenced by Johnny Depp in “Benny and June,” Robert Downey Jr. in “Chaplin,” and Anna Karina in “The Outsiders.” Hitler became the ruthless adversary of the artist when Chaplin’s character in The Great Dictator danced with the globe.

Chaplin’s passion for boxing was evident in his work and he never disguised it. This sport was the subject of distinct sequences, short films, and the movies “Knockout,” “Champion,” and others. The artist had friendships with Primo Carnera, also known as the Walking Mountain, and Jack Dempsey, who Mike Tyson subsequently looked up to.


Persecution of the director started after Chaplin’s first sound picture, The Great Dictator, was released. He was charged with adhering to communist ideology and engaging in anti-American actions. The FBI’s chief investigator, Edgar Hoover, increased the number of dossiers that were compiled about the artist starting in the 1930s.

When Charlie filmed Monsieur Verdoux in the 1940s, the persecution reached its height. Censorship made it illegal. Proof of guilt came to light for the artist. They accused him of being a Jew and a covert communist, as well as being indifferent to his host nation (the actor never embraced US citizenship). We delved into our private lives, airing our unclean laundry. Nevertheless, Monsieur Verdoux received an Oscar nomination for best writing.

In 1952, the artist was expelled from the United States after traveling to London for the London premiere of his film Footlights. Hoover succeeded in getting immigration officials to forbid Chaplin from entering the country again. Charlie made his home in Vevey, Switzerland. Because he thought he may be deported, he gave his wife power of attorney over his estate. And she relocated to Switzerland with her kids after selling everything.

Last years

Chaplin kept up his creative work in Switzerland. For some of his silent films, he composed music. The actor and filmmaker received the International Peace Prize in 1954.

“A King in New York” was his final black-and-white picture and the first to be shot in his own country of Great Britain. It was not until 1973 that the movie was screened in the US. Even Chaplin acknowledged that he made this choice. However, he was certain that US censorship would not have permitted the movie’s release.

Subsequently, the artist released autobiographies, which served as the inspiration for the 1992 biographical film “Chaplin.” A Countess from Hong Kong, Chaplin’s final motion picture, was released in 1967. In 1972, Charlie was able to return to the United States. His temporary visa to attend the Oscars was granted. The director was awarded this second trophy. Three years later, Chaplin was knighted by British Queen Elizabeth II.

Individual existence

In his private life, Charlie Chaplin has been married four times and has twelve children, one of whom was identified through genetic testing as his step-brother. Mildred Harris, an actress, was his first spouse. Their two-year cohabitation was short lived. Norman, their first child, passed away practically right away.

For four years, Chaplin shared a home with Lita Gray, his second wife. The 16-year-old Lita had to be taken to Mexico by the artist in order for their marriage to be legally consummated. Sidney Earle Chaplin and Charles Chaplin Jr. were the sons of this union. They both went on to have successful careers in film. The older man’s relationship with Marilyn Monroe is well-known. Lita received enormous compensation from the artist throughout the divorce process, ranging from $700 to 850 thousand, based on multiple estimations.

From 1932 until 1940, Chaplin shared a home with Paulette Goddard, his third wife. Following her divorce, Paulette relocated to Switzerland and wed author Erich Maria Remarque.

Una O’Neill is the British artist’s fourth wife. The couple got married in 1943. Una’s husband was 36 years older than her. They cohabitated until Chaplin’s passing. Three sons and five daughters were born into this union. The comedian turned 72 years old when the last child was born. The artist acknowledged in his later years that he would not have experienced issues with women if he had met his present wife sooner.

Geraldine, Charlie’s eldest daughter, became an actress by following in her father’s footsteps. Her name is linked to a heartfelt letter that Charlie wrote specifically for her. Although the passage appeared in a book about Chaplin called “About Myself and My Work,” Iranian writer Farajolleh Saba is credited with writing it because she published it in a magazine under the “Fantasy” category. Subsequently, the title vanished, and magazines started competing to translate and repost the poignant passages. However, authorities of the Chaplin group formally declared that this letter was not written by the artist.

Una, Geraldine’s grandchild from her marriage to Chilean director Patricio Castilla, was given to her father. The public is familiar with Oona Chaplin from her work on Game of Thrones.


The date of Charlie Chaplin’s passing was December 25, 1977. In his sleep, he departed. Intracerebral hemorrhage was the reason for death. The artist was laid to rest in the Vevey cemetery. But in March 1978, the ashes were reinterred in Corsier-sur-Vevey, another Swiss city, where a 1.5-meter-tall concrete ball had been placed in the grave following the coffin’s theft for ransom.

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